Fay drenches Southeast

Published 11:15 am Monday, August 25, 2008

The remnants of Tropical Storm Fay spread over a wide swath of the South on Monday, bringing heavy rain and wind as forecasters warned of possible flash flooding and tornadoes from Louisiana to Georgia.

The rain could be good news for some, including farmers looking for a break from a long-term drought that stretches from parts of Louisiana through the Carolinas into Virginia.

In Florida, drenched by Fay last week, floods forced residents in northern parts of the state out of homes Sunday. Some residents started cleaning up Monday as water slowly receded in places, while others saw swollen rivers continue to rise.

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As Fay ebbed, a new storm was brewing. The seventh tropical depression of the Atlantic hurricane season formed in the central Caribbean and was heading for the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

Thunderstorms, flash flooding and isolated tornadoes were a possibility Monday from northwestern Georgia through Alabama and Mississippi to southeastern Louisiana, all due to remains of Fay, forecasters said.

In Georgia, a family member said Fay’s winds knocked an oak tree onto the Plains home of former President Jimmy Carter late on Saturday. One of the former president’s sons, Jeff Carter, said both his father and his mother, Rosalynn Carter, were at home at the time but neither was hurt.

The storm’s remnants were likely to bring several inches of rain to Alabama, Mississippi, eastern Louisiana and Tennessee. Many hoped the storm could bring much-needed relief from a regional drought.

“We need something like this to recharge the soil. It probably won’t be a total drought-buster,” said National Weather Service senior forecaster Andy Kula in Huntsville, Ala.

Rain was also reaching western North Carolina’s parched mountains. Meteorologist Doug Outlaw at the National Weather Service in Greer, S.C., said some areas of extreme southwestern North Carolina had gotten as much as an inch of rain as remnants of Fay moved in from northeast Georgia, where as much as 3 to 4 inches had fallen.

Fay made landfall a record four times in Florida before it was downgraded to a tropical depression late Saturday. The storm caused widespread flooding as it zigzagged across Florida for nearly a week.

Fay has been blamed for 13 deaths in the U.S., 11 in Florida and one each in Alabama and Georgia. A total of 23 died in Haiti and the Dominican Republic from flooding.

President Bush declared four hard-hit Florida counties disaster areas. The declaration makes funds available for emergency work and repairs to governments in Brevard, Monroe, Okeechobee and St. Lucie counties. More could be added later.